At an unusual FCC open meeting yesterday that was conducted via teleconference and that lacked a prescribed agenda, FCC Commissioner Deborah Tate confirmed her intention to step down as soon as the 111th Congress begins its duties early next month. Tate, a Republican and former chairman of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, has served at the FCC since 2005 and has cast the swing vote in several contentious agency proceedings that include the merger of Sirius and XM Satellite Radio. In June 2007, Tate was renominated by President Bush to serve a full five-year term at the FCC. The Senate, however, never acted on that nomination, thus leaving Tate with no choice but to step down from the agency by the start of the new congressional term. Although Tate’s departure leaves the FCC evenly split along party lines with four members, that number may soon dwindle to three as FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is also expected to resign next month with the arrival of the Obama Administration. As Martin praised Tate for her work with children’s broadcast issues, her Republican colleague, Commissioner Robert McDowell, credited Tate for being the “voice of consensus” at the FCC who helped her fellow commissioners to “find the middle ground on any number of complicated issues.” In a similar vein, Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein applauded Tate’s “advocacy on behalf of American children and families” as Commissioner Michael Copps lauded Tate’s involvement in universal service issues. In turn, Tate—who has yet to disclose her future plans—complimented her fellow commissioners as “dedicated, professional and compassionate individuals” who “epitomize all that is good and positive about the term ‘public servant.’”